SailGP’s new-class wingsailed F50 catamarans will be tested from mid-October in Northland. The region will become the central technical and development hub for the production and delivery of some of the most advanced boats in the world.
Designed and constructed by New Zealand’s Core Builders Composites, the F50 is a one-design class, and is a redesigned, supercharged incarnation of the exceptional AC50 used for the 35th America’s Cup last year. Core Builders Composites is the official boat supplier for SailGP and will also provide all associated technical and support services.
SailGP’s sea trials are a technical exercise focused on testing and safety, aimed at validating the leading-edge systems of the boats and allowing each of SailGP’s six teams – Australia, China, France, Japan and the United States – to become familiar with the F50s’ highly advanced technology and to determine how to effectively operate the boat at speeds exceeding 50 knots.
Testing will take place from Northport, the deep-water commercial port at Marsden Point, about 80km north of Core Builders Composites factory in Warkworth, where the F50s were designed and built by highly-skilled marine professionals from across Northland.
The six catamarans have been under construction for the past 12 months by teams from Core Builders Composites, MS Engineering, Pure Design, C-Tech, Doyle Sails, Baytex and Rayglass. The first F50 will be launched later this month using Northport’s 100-ton mobile harbour crane, which will lower the boats and wings to a special pontoon and mooring area the port has set aside for the purpose.
The Northland marine industry has provided the platform for the sea trials to take place on the waters of Bream Bay. Over the next three months SailGP will take advantage of local resources and experts to conduct testing and ensure the F50s are race-ready early next year.
Activity will continue in Northland throughout SailGP’s initial seasons and beyond.
“Northland offers easy access to a highly skilled and specialised marine services sector which will allow us to perform the shake-down sails and validate the yachts’ upgraded systems and technology,” said Brad Marsh, SailGP tech team operations manager. “We look forward to integrating the sailors into local communities and ensuring they experience everything Northland has to offer.”
“While this isn’t a commercial undertaking for us and is very different to our core business, we are delighted to facilitate the role Northland will play in this new event in the global competitive sailing calendar,” said Northport CEO Jon Moore. “This is the latest in a series of developments at Northport that are helping to raise Northland’s profile both domestically and internationally.
“Ports don’t drive economic growth but certainly can facilitate it. We understand that many of the services Core Builders Composites needs will be sourced locally and wouldn’t be surprised to see other specialist firms servicing the international competitive sailing industry establish a presence here too.”
Each of the six SailGP teams will spend a minimum of two weeks in Northland as they take their first sails on the new class of yachts, set to begin racing in Sydney in mid-February.